When He Studied Philosophy, He Dressed Like a Slob

From Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists (Aristocles of Pergamum)

“Aristocles of Pergamum was famous among sophists—I will relate as much as I have heard about him from older men. This man came from a consular rank; although from the time of childhood through adolescence he studied the work of the Peripatetic school, he moved on to the sophists and frequented Herodes’ lectures on extemporaneous speech in Rome. As a student of philosophy,  he was coarse and heedless in appearance, and his clothing was squalid; but as a sophist, he took delicate care—he reformed his squalid ways and introduced into his house the pleasures of the lyre, pipes, and voices as if he had heard them knocking at his door. Although in earlier days he had been rather restrained, now he frequently went to the theater and its great noise.

When he was becoming well-known in Pergamum and all of Greece nearby was fixated with him, Herodes traveled to Pergamum and sent his own students to him—he raised up Aristocles as a vote from Athena would.  His fashion of speech was clear and Attic, but it was readier for set-debate than forensic use—for his speech had no anger or sudden breaks; and his Atticism, if it were to be weighed against Herodes’ speech, would seem rather slight and to lack in weight and sound. Aristocles died when his hair was half-grey, when he was just starting to get old.”


γ′. ᾿Ονομαστὸς ἐν σοφισταῖς καὶ ᾿Αριστοκλῆς ὁ ἐκ τοῦ Περγάμου, ὑπὲρ οὗ δηλώσω, ὁπόσα τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἤκουον· ἐτέλει μὲν γὰρ ἐς ὑπάτους ὁ ἀνὴρ οὗτος, τὸν δὲ ἐκ παίδων ἐς ἥβην χρόνον τοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ Περιπάτου φιλοσοφήσας λόγους ἐς τοὺς σοφιστὰς μετερρύη θαμίζων ἐν τῇ ῾Ρώμῃ τῷ ῾Ηρώδῃ διατιθεμένῳ σχεδίους λόγους. ὃν δὲ ἐφιλοσόφει χρόνον αὐχμηρὸς δοκῶν καὶ τραχὺς τὸ εἶδος καὶ δυσπινὴς τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἥβρυνε καὶ τὸν αὐχμὸν ἀπετρίψατο ἡδονάς τε, ὁπόσαι λυρῶν τε καὶ αὐλῶν καὶ εὐφωνίας εἰσί, πάσας ἐσηγάγετο ἐπὶ τὴν δίαιταν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ θύρας αὐτῷ ἡκούσας, τὸν γὰρ πρὸ τοῦ χρόνον οὕτω κεκολασμένος ἀτάκτως ἐς τὰ θέατρα ἐφοίτα καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν τούτων ἠχώ. εὐδοκιμοῦντι δὲ αὐτῷ κατὰ τὸ Πέργαμον κἀξηρτημένῳ πᾶν τὸ ἐκείνῃ ῾Ελληνικὸν ἐξελαύνων ὁ ῾Ηρώδης ἐς Πέργαμον ἔπεμψε τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ ὁμιλητὰς πάντας καὶ τὸν ᾿Αριστοκλέα ἦρεν, ὥσπερ τις ᾿Αθηνᾶς ψῆφος. ἡ δὲ ἰδέα τοῦ λόγου διαυγὴς μὲν καὶ ἀττικίζουσα, διαλέγεσθαι δὲ ἐπιτηδεία μᾶλλον ἢ ἀγωνίζεσθαι, χολή τε γὰρ ἄπεστι τοῦ λόγου καὶ ὁρμαὶ πρὸς βραχὺ αὐτή τε ἡ ἀττίκισις, εἰ παρὰ τὴν τοῦ ῾Ηρώδου γλῶτταν βασανίζοιτο, λεπτολογεῖσθαι δόξει μᾶλλον ἢ κρότου τε καὶ ἠχοῦς ξυγκεῖσθαι. ἐτελεύτα δὲ ὁ ᾿Αριστοκλῆς μεσαιπόλιος, ἄρτι προσβαίνων τῷ γηράσκειν.

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